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Saturday, September 20, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 8/30/2014

COMMENTARY

Toledo will be in good hands with next ‘Danny Thomas’

BY TK BARGER
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR

Three minutes and 15 seconds into his remarks after being introduced at a news conference as the new bishop of the Diocese of Toledo, Daniel E. Thomas, who comes from Philadelphia where he was an auxiliary bishop, established a Toledo connection.

“So, I know you’re wondering, just who is this bishop Pope Francis has sent to you?” he said. “Well, the word’s already out: Pope Francis has sent Toledo a new Danny Thomas.” Then he stretched the analogy past their sharing the same name. “Now, since the bishop is the father of the family of faith in the diocese, I guess this is Pope Francis’s was of saying to all of you, “Make Room for Daddy.” Now for those of you under 50, you may not know that this rather popular actor grew up here and that that was the name of his rather famous television show.”

Three fathers were pleased to make room for their bishop daddy, whose official first day of work is Oct. 22. The Rev. Charles Ritter, who had been serving as diocesan administrator doing episcopal duties in the interim between bishops, said, “I’m going to be very happy when we get to about 5 p.m. on the 22nd of October because, technically, I am still the one responsible for the diocese until he’s installed, and God forbid that anything happen to him between now and October or I’ve got this job for a lot longer than I had planned.

“But we’re just delighted to have him here, and I think he’ll be good. He certainly brings an energy and enthusiasm.” Father Ritter looks forward to resuming his regular duties as associate pastor of St. Joseph in Sylvania.

The Rev. Monte Hoyles, diocesan chancellor, and Msgr. William Kubacki, moderator of the curia or administrative body of the diocese, will not only work closely with Bishop Thomas; they’ll live with him, too, in a rectory, near Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral.

“I’m excited,” Father Hoyles said. “He has a lot of energy, a lot of joy, a focus on the gospel. You couldn’t have asked for anything better than that for a bishop for our diocese.”

You al­ways go by first im­pres­sions, and the first im­pres­sions are ex­cel­lent," Msgr. Kubacki said. "Father Rit­ter's been great to work with but, you know, there's not a bishop, and some peo­ple may not un­der­stand that to­tally. To get some­body on board, this makes a dif­fer­ence."

The bishop's phi­los­o­phy will be­come ap­par­ent as he does his work.

"I don't like la­bels like ‘con­ser­va­tive' or ‘lib­eral,' Bishop Tho­mas said at the news con­fer­ence. He spoke about a bishop ac­cused of be­ing con­ser­va­tive with his feet planted in ce­ment and he re­sponded. He said, “That’s not the case at all. I’m just a faith­ful Cath­o­lic with my feet planted firmly on the ground.”

"I think the re­al­ity is, Pope Francis is preach­ing the gos­pel ... and I hope to im­i­tate that style and, please God, draw ev­ery­one with­out la­bels to the church and to the lord."

Bishop Tho­mas re­ferred to a priest who, in 1941 in the Ausch­witz con­cen­tra­tion camp, vol­un­teered to re­place a stranger in a group se­lected to be starved to death. Bishop Tho­mas said, "Just who is this com­ing to you? Per­haps to par­ahrase St. Max­i­mil­ian Kolbe, on whose feast [Aug. 14] I learned I would be your bishop, I would sim­ply re­spond: I am a Roman Cath­o­lic bishop.

"Just as for St. Max­i­mil­ian when he was asked who are you, he said, ‘I am a Roman Cath­o­lic priest.' It was more im­por­tant than an­nounc­ing his name, so for me, sim­ply stat­ing ‘I am a Roman Cath­o­lic bishop' I think should say it all! What is im­por­tant is not so much my name, but who I am for you, a father, brother, and friend."

And Toledo and north­west Ohio will learn about the new Danny Tho­mas when his feet are on the ground.

Contact TK Barger @ tkbarger@theblade.com, 419-724-6278 or on Twitter @TK_Barger.



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